If your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
Moses makes it quite clear that God is to have the most important place in the life of every Israelite. As he addresses what should be done if someone comes along and tries to lead the Israelites away from God, Moses does not mince words. He goes so far as to say that even if the person trying to lead the Israelites astray makes a prophecy that comes to pass or performs a miracle that person must still be killed for trying to lead the Israelites away from God. The summary of this is that anyone trying to lead a believer away from God has bad things in their future. For the Israelites, it was that the seducer would be executed.
In the New Testament, similar warnings are issued.
Moses warns that it might be your brother, your mother’s son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul who tries to lead you astray. It very well may be those closest to you that try to come between you and God. Jesus will later say that He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me (Matthew 10:37). The idea communicated in both instances is that no Earthly relationship can be permitted to interfere with the Heavenly. God is pro-marriage and pro-parenthood, so it is not that He is teaching that I must eschew all Earthly relationships, but that I must keep them in their proper place. This right position comes with a promise, though. Jesus said I must seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you (Matthew 6:33). The things in the verse are all human needs — food, shelter, clothing, and we can add companionship to the list, since it was God Who first noted that it is not good for man to be alone.
Moses tells the Israelites that when someone pops up and tries to seduce them away from worshiping God, they shall not yield to him or listen to him, but instead shall surely kill him. In the New Testament, Paul writes to the Galatians that even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! (Galatians 1:8-9) In both cases, the one leading people astray is destroyed. In the first case, it is destruction in the here and now while in the second it is an eternal destruction.
The modern Western mind is apt to see these things as harsh. The idea that all temporal relationships must be secondary to my relationship with God sounds, to the unbeliever, like I am in some sort of cult. But God is not, as the cult leader does, telling me that I cannot have any other relationships, only that I must keep the right perspective about my relationships. The idea that anyone leading others astray must be executed seems barbaric to the modern Western mind, but it goes back to the idea of keeping my relationship with God intact. Deceivers can be very convincing and there are some who are susceptible to each type of deception. The requirement that the deceiver be put to death is meant, I think, to protect those who would be a prey to that deceiver. Even our modern Western courts recognize the importance of the truth being told, as perjury can carry severe penalties.
This brings me around to how this applies to me.
Item one: I need to watch myself and stay grounded in the Truth. There will always be deceivers and there will always be deceptions that sound plausible to individuals. If I am not keeping myself grounded in the Word of God — steeped in it — then I am more likely to be deceived.
Item two: I need to watch how I handle the Word of Truth; The Bible. I do not want to inadvertently become one of the deceivers. If I am not handling The Bible rightly, then my misunderstandings can be just as harmful and deceptive as another’s outright lies. I must make clear where the Truth of God ends and my attempts to make it my own begin.
Father, please keep me steeped in Your Truth so that I am less susceptible to deceit. Please teach me to rightly divide the Word of Truth so that I am a workman who need not be ashamed. Thank You that You love us enough to be concerned about keeping us from deception and that You treat falsehoods that can mess up our relationship so seriously.